A TOUR OF THE OUTER HEBRIDES(A night on Skye)

Our 11 day itinerary in June: 1 night Skye; 5 days North Uist/South Uist and Barra; 4 days Harris; 1 day Lewis.

THIS POST: DAY 1 GLASGOW TO SKYE AND OVERNIGHT

The Outer Hebrides are islands on the edge, green pearls in a cold, unforgiving ocean, yet remarkably easy to access and explore. When the sun shines – and it does, often – they are astonishingly beautiful.Windswept in winter and sometimes even in summer, their allure in all weathers draws me back again and again. Their west coasts are ringed with dazzling white shell-sand beaches and lapped by turquoise waters, often with a backdrop of wild rugged mountains. In summer, several have beaches backed by extensive wildflower grasslands which make the air heady with scent.

 

They are also characterised by sea lochs, low rocky headlands and lily studded lochans. Gaelic is still spoken frequently and is such a lyrical language; I always think that so much of Gaelic song is haunting and heart-breakingly beautiful, like the islands themselves. There are world famous Standing Stones and Stone Circles, ancient Duns (forts) and Viking kilns. And there is peace and silence as well as nights filled with Ceilidh music and dances.

north uist beach
Deserted silver sands on North Uist

We spend time every year on these islands, as well as the Inner Hebrides.

Our 11 day summer trip this time comprised of a few nights wild camping followed by two nights to scrub up a bit in a very beautiful cottage. Especially in winter, we like booking a nice self catering cottage on the islands; there are some stunning holiday properties.On Harris in particular these cost an arm and a leg in peak season! £1200 per week upwards.In winter, the price often halves. The islands have good cafes, some great places to eat but are not for those who  need shopping therapy on a regular basis! They do attract artists however and much art work is for sale in some very attractive little galleries.

DAY 1: JOURNEY TO SKYE AND HOPES FOR A GRAND SUNSET OVER SKYE’S BLACK CUILLIN

Glasgow to south Skye was our first day’s journey. Next day, we would north to Uig (north Skye) where we would take the ferry to North Uist.

It’s a 4.5 hour drive non-stop from our home in Glasgow to the Skye Bridge via Glencoe. It’s a route which always stops us in our tracks at so many points, despite knowing it so well. It is wildly scenic from Loch Lomond onwards. For new travellers, an overnight around Glencoe, halfway approximately, would allow the drive to be enjoyed in a more relaxed way.Today however, we were on a mission  – to get to Skye and walk in to a wild camp, giving ourselves time to savour a very special place on this spectacular island.

For the route’s highlights see: MY NO 1 DRIVING ROUTE TO SKYE

Glencoe  – halfway to Skye

We reached Skye around 2pm and now my Bucket List item No 1 for this trip lay ahead – wild camping above Camasunary Bay and hopefully seeing the sun set over the dramatic Black Cuillin mountain ridge.Whether the weather would play ball for this was another matter!

Camasunary Bay walk in and camp

It’s a 40 minute walk from the Kilmarie parking area on the Broadford – Elgol road , to the high point of the good track above the bay where we planned to set up the tent. It is, to me,  one of the most glorious of views, a great example of the west coast mountain/ocean combo.

On arrival, we footered around at the car for 20 mins or so just to sort ourselves out and make sure we had all the gear we needed – no point in realising once we arrived at our pitch, that we’d forgotten the matches or fuel for the Trangia stove! Then off we set for the fairly easy walk in, albeit with 180m of uphill towards the end that had us puffing a bit with all the gear.

Kilmarie set out
Setting off from Kilmarie to camp

We got the tent up quickly, glad of the cool breeze which kept midges at bay. Then we perched ourselves on some rocks to admire the gorgeous view and relax a bit with a tumbler of white wine and some crisps.There was no other place on Skye I’d rather have been that evening. It is a place, to me, of astonishing beauty and grandeur.It also remains firmly off the tourist track and few visitors ever enjoy its delights and peace.

Camp
Above Camasunary Bay

Dinner was cooked on the disposable BBQ, steaks and sausages scoffed down with buttered rolls;  then gallons of tea for me and some chocolate. Chris remained on , as he called it, ‘better things’ – i.e.wine.

Camp eveing light
Shadows over the Black Cuillin, Skye

There was some heavy lowering cloud about which added extra atmosphere to this already magical place.

cloud bubbling

sun oing down

By 8pm the sun was starting to cast some interesting light and it was lifting again – it looked like a good sunset was on the cards!  I could hardly believe that my wee dream might just come true, given Scotland’s very changeable, unreliable weather and the way the Cuillin, like most mountain ranges, draws and creates cloud around itself.

early eveing

 

red cuillin
The Red Cuillin behind us…..

We spent an hour wandering higher up the hillside beside the tent, just savouring the scene before finally enjoying a sunset which couldn’t have been more spectacular.The jagged outline of the Cuillin was etched in black against a changing palette of orange, pink, lemon and gold.

sunset

It is so true, there are some things that money cannot buy……..

sunset 2
Sgurr nan Gillean’s sharp summit

In shadow, it’s clear why these island peaks are often called the British Alps……

sunset close up

Family and friends often question how we can be bothered with wild camping (especially at our age, 60+) but that evening overlooking the Black Cuillin provided the answer.Yes we love occasional splurges in lovely hotels and fine dining but this kind of experience has become addictive and will always call me back (certainly for as long as our ageing limbs and backs can stand it!)

Next Day: 5 Days on North Uist, South Uist and Barra A TOUR OF THE OUTER HEBRIDES (5 days on North Uist, South Uist and Barra)  

 

 

 

 

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